Middle Betting: Finding Those Sweet Spot Sports Betting Opportunities
Getting caught between a rock and a hard place is technically being stuck in the middle, which also happens to be a sportsbook’s worst nightmare.
While they set lines on almost every type of sporting event and are willing to take action opposite of whatever you decide, the one thing they don’t want to happen is for a game result to land in the middle. That can lead to them losing significant sums of money.
But we’re not here for the books and nobody is going to shed a tear for them. Last time we checked, Las Vegas is doing just fine in terms of profits. We’re here for the players who are looking to land in that in between and hone their middle betting strategy. These bets are rare and hard to find, but if you’re looking to find middle betting opportunities, here’s how to do it.
Learn The Line Movements
Middle betting opportunities don’t grow on trees, so you’re really going to have to plan and strategize to make these happen.
The first thing you’ll need to learn is how the line movement works in the sportsbook. Even if you’re beyond the basics and generally know what makes the lines move, you have to have a great feel of which lines will move before they do.
Let’s say the Dallas Cowboys are a popular team with well-recognized offensive weapons that many in the media love and talk about. Now let’s say the Cowboys get blown out in Week 10 but are hosting a bad team in Week 11. It’s a pretty good assumption that if the oddsmakers open up the Cowboys too low, the public will be betting them. Another example is a big favorite in a playoff series losing Game 1 at home. They’ll be hosting Game 2 as well and bettors will love the revenge factor. That means that side will likely get bet up.
Poll: Sports bettors, do you believe middling, arbing, chasing steam and/or playing off-market numbers violates any unwritten rule or the spirit of sports betting?
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) June 28, 2019
So, what does this all add up to? It means that you have be a bit of a lines handicapper before the lines open up. It’s like the stock market: in the pre-market and after hours, there are traders who have a good feel for which way things will go based on the macro and microeconomics. That’s the type of feel you have to have as a first step towards becoming good at uncovering middles and then betting the middle opportunities.
Get In Early
Now that you have an understanding of how the lines might move, the next step is to get in early. That means that you’re paying close attention to the line openings – whenever they might come. If it’s baseball, you’re paying attention in the afternoons every day and if it’s football, you’re looking weeks ahead if the lines are up. Here are three things to look for when you’re trying to find the right setup:
Public Line Moves – Consider which teams are beloved by the public and think about their situations. Will the public be piling in based on what happened the previous week? Will bettors overreact to one bad week? These are examples of things you’ll be on the lookout for to prepare yourself for a middle opportunity.
Injury News – If you have your finger on the pulse of the player news, you might be able to get a jump on an early line in preparation for a middling opportunity. For example, if you watched a quarterback suffer a major concussion on Sunday and the player is questionable for the following week, the oddsmakers might still open the line. It might open with the thinking that the player plays, so you can bet the line if you believe the player won’t play and then bet the other side once the player is announced out. Of course, these are not sure things but done right, this is one way to capitalize.
Weather Reports – If you’re tracking the local weather reports – especially later in the season – you can find good middle opportunities with totals. Typically, sharps get the jump on weather and you can see totals in places like Denver, Cleveland and Green Bay start to tumble early in the week if the game is played in a wintery month. Look at the seven-day forecast and see if you can get some value early in the week before everyone else realizes the situation. And then after the line moves, you’ll have a shot to middle.
Middling With Live Betting
Finding middles with in-game betting has become a popular middle betting strategy because the lines fluctuate quite a bit. To open up that area where you can find a middle, you need that volatility and live betting offers plenty of it. The biggest challenge is that you have to have a good feel for which way the line will go.
This game is the perfect example of how live betting & middling can profit big.
— Spread Investor (@spreadinvestor) January 17, 2016
One popular strategy that bettors like to deploy is watching a big favorite go down early. Let’s say the Los Angeles Lakers are a 10-point favorites but they start the game in a 20-10 hole. The live line and point spread are going to drop quite a bit on them. That gives you the opportunity to buy-in on the Lakers a lot cheaper than the initial price of -10. If they storm back and make a comeback, you should see the line revert back to where it started and then you’ll have a window of opportunity.
Just keep in mind that the game may not go the way you think, so you have to play for that. If the Lakers go down early, it’s possible that their early deficit becomes even bigger and the dog leads wire-to-wire. You really have to be careful with how you middle with live betting as there is more opportunity because of the frequent line moves but also more risk.
Now that we’ve covered a risky way for betting the middle, we can talk about one of the safest: teasers. Teasers allow you to move the line in your favor and that gives you an opportunity to create a middle. Of course, with teasers, you’ll need more than one outcome to go your way but you give yourself more space to catch a middle.
A great example of this is with the latter stages of the NFL postseason. Typically, by the Divisional Round, the lines are very sharp and the teams are evenly matched. While it might be hard to determine if a team will cover a four-point spread as a dog, bumping them up by 10 to +14 makes the decision a lot easier. And even if you go the other way and take the favorite +6, you might be in the middle of an area where both sides win the bet. That’s a great situation to be in and one of the reasons why bettors do like playing teasers in the playoffs.
If you can find more of these situations where either side of the teasers land in the middle, you can put yourself in position for profit – even if you need that second leg to come through for you.
Using Promos To Your Advantage
If you do want to pick up some extra middle betting opportunities, you should consider using promos to your advantage. After all, sportsbooks are offering so many of them these days. Most recreational bettors will just let the bets ride while sharps will arbitrage the lines to secure a profit. What you could do is try and take advantage of middles where possible.
One example is a FanDuel Same-Game Parlay, assuming you play three legs or more. They’ll often toss you a few of these for free, so what you could do is have a couple of obvious selections and then your third one could be the point spread for the game shifted. And then maybe you bet the regular and aim for a middle. For example, let’s say something like Alternate Total over 14.5 points (obvious choice one), Peyton Manning over 200 passing yards (obvious choice two) and Indianapolis Colts +10. And then you bet the regular spread to cover the other end. Of course, this isn’t a perfect middle but thinking along these lines can give you an opportunity.
Another option is with player props that are boosted or altered. Let’s say DraftKings is offering a promo on Kevin Durant to score 20+ points tonight at +100 but the regular line is at 27.5. You could bet the boost and then go to the regular line at a different sportsbook and take the other side, so that you create a seven-point middling opportunity for yourself. These types of opportunities are frequent nowadays as there are all sorts of boosts or super boosts on players to score a touchdown, collect an amount of yards or achieve something in the game. Many will just bet unhedged but another way to crumble this cookie is by looking to middle and win both sides.
Keep an eye out on the promos from all the books but look at them through a middle betting opportunity to see where you can try and catch those double wins.
Hedging Out, Cashing Out
One point of safety that’s worth highlighting is that if you’re trying to catch a middle and you fail, you can always hedge out of it. In other words, if you bet on the Green Bay Packers early in the week and it turns out that the line didn’t move the way you thought it would, and that middling opportunity never presents itself, you can simply bet the other side to cover yourself.
Hindsight being 20/20 and all but tonight presented an amazing middling betting opportunity.
— seeking28 (@seeking28) February 6, 2017
An even better option is betting at places like BetMGM, DraftKings or BetRivers as they all have a cash out feature. That means that you can simply cash your bet out at any point before the game starts (and even during the game, at some books) and get almost all of your money back. At a place like BetMGM, they’ll return your full bet stake if the line hasn’t moved. Other places might charge a small percentage. At any rate, cross-reference that with simply hedging your bet and take the path that costs you less.
Just remember that while trying to find a middle, you never have to leave yourself exposed on a side that you don’t want to commit to. There are always ways out to protect yourself the full loss.
It’s Tricky To Turn A Profit
Keep in min that while everyone loves the idea of middle betting, it’s very difficult to profit from this strategy in the long run.
The biggest challenge to middles is that the game has to land in the middle. Many times you might get a total with a three-point window to middle but it doesn’t land there. Or you might catch a +6 and a -4, but then the final margin is a 10-point victory. The problem here is that you’ve lost the juice on one of your side and are not profitable on this wager. Of course, there will be times when you win your middle but you have to crunch the numbers here and realize that you’re looking roughly 9% on your money each time you middle and it doesn’t work out (at -110). Of course, if you’re getting lines that matchup, then middle away and you never have to worry about the juice. However, what’s closer to the reality is that this can cost you.
Not All Middling Opportunities Are Equal
One thing to remember with middle betting opportunities is that they’re not all made equal. Your ideal scenario is using an odds comparison tool like the one at Outlier and simply finding two books that are off on the same line, betting both sides and giving yourself a window to land in the middle and win both. What would be even better is if the odds matched and you weren’t exposed to losing the juice. That’s the ideal scenario.
What isn’t as good of a middle scenario is if you bet a player prop and the dynamics changed, the odds changed and then you try and catch the sweet spot. While that might be confusing, allow us to explain.
Let’s say you bet on Justin Herbert to have over 240.5 passing yards this week and now all of the sudden, it’s announced his top two running backs are not healthy enough to play. Now his total jumps to 260.5. Of course, you now have a space to find yourself a middle betting chance but at the same time, you’re sitting on a pretty good bet too. The value is on your side. The same might happen when you’re betting a side and a big dynamic in the game changes in your favor. You’ll have a clear-cut runway to land in the middle but the expected value of you winning the original bet might now simply be worth keeping. Just keep that in mind as not all middles are the same.